Documentary to look at challenges of inner-city school
The documentary “180 Days: A Year Inside An American High School” will be shown on PBS in two parts on March 25-26 from 9-11 p.m.
The film follows five students – Raven Coston, 17; Raven Quattlebaum, 18; Rufus McDowney, 16; Tiara Parker, 18; and Delaunte Bennett, 18 – at Washington, D.C.’s Washington Metropolitan High School (DC Met) and how they, their teachers and the school’s administrators deal with a plethora of school reform initiatives.
In 2007, Washington, D.C., became the school reform movement’s ground zero when Michelle Rhee became school chancellor. Test scores rose and fell and now the nation’s capital tops the list of major U.S. cities for its glaring achievement gap: white students best black students by a margin of as much as four to one. School reform has brought numerous changes and has emphasized standardized testing, partially promoted by the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” initiative, in which school funding and personnel decisions are based largely on the results of high-stakes standardized tests. Tests, however, don’t take into account the troubled population of schools like DC Met — a school for children at risk of dropping out.
The film captures the dramatic battle of Principal Tanishia Williams Minor and the faculty at DC Met, where only seven percent of students are deemed “proficient” in math and only 19 percent in reading, as they race to reform truants, raise test scores and save their school, jobs—and the lives of their children. “180 Days” shows the real faces of those affected by the policies and legislation being implemented nationally.
“We have policy on education and we have reality,” said Jacquie Jones, executive producer of the film, “and ‘180 Days’ provides a snapshot into the reality of the on-the-ground troops in the fight to claim the lives and destinies of our children, many of whom are facing seemingly insurmountable challenges in their quest for an education.”
The film is produced by the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), which brings programming about the black experience to public television.